Month: April 2016

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A 78-year-old man was charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct, and communicating threats after he punched a young protester who was being escorted out by the police at a Trump rally on March 8, 2016.

That is a lot of information at once. Let’s break that down.

Start With The Basics

First, let’s talk about the person who committed the simple assault. The aggressor is a 78-year-old white male named John McGraw, who was wearing a cowboy hat and vest at the rally. He appears to be a die-hard Trump supporter. This man watched the protestors being escorted up the stairs and out of the arena by the police. As one of the protesters passed him, McGraw punched the protester in the face without any warning or visible provocation.

After the rally, “Inside Edition,” a syndicate of CBS, interviewed McGraw. McGraw bragged to the news station about the simple assault, saying: “Yes, he deserved it. The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don’t know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization.” (Seriously. He said that. And terrifyingly, he probably actually meant it.)

The day after the rally, McGraw was charged with: (1) simple assault; (2) disorderly conduct; and (3) communicating threats.

Second, let’s talk about the victim of the simple assault. The man that was assaulted was Rakeem Jones, a 26-year-old black man. He was at the rally to protest Trump’s campaign and message. As he was being escorted out, the attendees were shouting racial slurs at him and the other protestors. NBC News reported that Jones told them that the assault came out of nowhere, and left his right eye swollen and bruised. After he was sucker-punched, the police who were escorted him out surrounded Jones – not McGraw— and continued to lead Jones out of the arena.

Police Response Or Lack Thereof

Third, since we are on the subject, let’s talk about the police. The assault occurred in front of at least five sheriff deputies. Even though they were in the immediate vicinity during the attack, none of them took any action against McGraw. McGraw was permitted to enjoy the rest of the rally even after committing a blatant crime in front of the police.

The New York Times reported that five of the North Carolina deputies involved have been disciplined for their failure to take action after McGraw assaulted the protester—which solidifies the fact that the officers had a duty to step in and failed to do so. Three of the officers were suspended for five days without pay and demoted. Two of the officers were suspended for three days without pay. The North Carolina police department stated that their discipline was due to their “unsatisfactory performance and fail[ure] to discharge the duties and policies of the office of the sheriff.”

However, the fact that the police did fail to take action – and had to be disciplined – highlights the problem that is facing America today.

And that leads us to our final point of discussion: Donald Trump. This assault is but one of many that has been occurring at Trump political rallies. These tensions between protestors of Trump and supporters of Trump has become a permanent fixture during rallies – and has been mirrored by clashes between Trump’s security and journalists covering the rallies. Violence has become the new normal at these rallies to the extent that has never occurred in political campaigns prior to Trump.

A Non-Presidential Response

It is easy to track why this is occurring: Trump’s tone and rhetoric encourages aggression towards protestors (and anyone else that doesn’t see things his way). For example, during a rally on February 1, 2016, Trump stated:

There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience. So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, OK? Just knock the hell – I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”

At another rally on February 23, 2016, Trump watched as a protestor was escorted out, and told the crowd:

I’d like to punch him in the face…In the old days [protestors would be] carried out in stretchers…We’re not allowed to push back anymore.”

This is a presidential candidate that is saying these things. Someone who has too much of a chance to actually run America, to be the person that is supposed to uphold our right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association – he is speaking out against those rights.

An Unexpected Response To Trump

One of the responses to Trump’s rhetoric has been:

When we have a candidate who threatens people, this is not American. This is not equal justice. This is not who we are. If we give in to our anger, if we start to go down that path and we start to listen to bullies, we lose what makes us great.”

That response was said by Glen Beck. Glen Beck – the man who has called President Obama a racist, who has threatened to kill Michael Moore, and who compared Al Gore to Adolf Hitler because of Gore’s attempts to stop global warming. THAT man has called Trump a “bully.”

Perhaps this assault by a Trump supporter is only the beginning. Perhaps we need to gear on for a full fight against this hateful, aggressive, “bully.” I mean, if he can get us to start agreeing with Glen Beck – who knows what he is capable of doing.

I fear that it may be time to start becoming very afraid.

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Prosecutors carry a tremendous amount of power. The prosecutor’s office determines who will be charged with an offense, what offenses the criminal justice system will focus on prosecuting, and often what sentence the accused individuals will receive. But, as Voltaire – and Spiderman – acknowledged: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Therefore, a prosecutor blatantly violating the very law for which he zealously prosecutes others on a daily basis is downright offensive.

The Example of Stuart Dunnings

Stuart Dunnings has been the top prosecutor in Ingam County Michigan for almost 20 years. For the past decade, Dunnings and his office explicitly focused on cracking down on the commercial sex industry by imposing harsher sanctions on both johns and prostitutes. In 2001, the Ingam County prosecutor’s office began impounding johns’ vehicles in conjunction with their arrests and has been charging third offenses as felonies. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schusette described Dunnings as an “outspoken advocate for ending human trafficking and prostitution.”

Shocking Display of Hypocrisy And Irony

However, beginning in 2015, an investigation by a combined team of the Michigan State Office of the Attorney General, the FBI, and the Ingham County Sherriff’s Office conducted a probe into Michigan’s “human trafficking” (prostitution) ring. During the investigation, they uncovered a shocking display of hypocrisy and irony: Ingam County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings has paid to have sex with prostitutes hundreds of times. It was not just a one-time occurrence. The records suggest that Dunnings used escort websites to find dozens upon dozens of prostitutes and paid for sex hundreds of times amongst three counties from 2010-2015. There is even evidence that his brother, Michigan attorney Steven Dunnings, also engaged in prostitution activities.

On Monday, March 14, 2016, Dunnings was charged with fifteen counts spanning four different courts in three different Michigan counties. The charges include: (1) 10 misdemeanor counts of engaging the services of a prostitute; (2) four misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty by an elected official (by blatantly violating the law that he swore an oath to uphold); and (3) one felony count of pandering.

Pandering Charge Displaying True Colors

The pandering felony count is definitely the most interesting charge against Dunnings. Pandering – commonly known as “pimping” – occurs when an individual induces or persuades a woman to “become” a prostitute. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.455. The facts behind this charge are downright disturbing. Apparently, a domestic violence victim had come to Dunnings for help regarding a custody dispute. Dunnings allegedly coerced this woman into having sex with him and then paid her for it. According to the police, the woman initially did not accept but was worn down and eventually did accept because she felt she had no choice but to accept. For the next couple years, Dunnings continued to pay her about $1200 a month. Apparently, that is how much the top prosecutor thought a domestic violence victim was worth. These disgusting actions were happening while Dunnings was simultaneously putting “criminals” behind bars for much less serious offenses.

Possible Sentencing Could Have Serious Repercussions

The amount of hypocrisy and chutzpah required for such a feat would almost be impressive— if it wasn’t so disgusting. The pandering charge on its own carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. If he is convicted on all charges, Dunnings can face a maximum sentence of 26.5 years in prison. I can only imagine that some of his fellow inmates will have a few strong words for the prosecutor when he shows up at the prison.

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In October 2015, Lamar Odom was found face down, unconscious, and foaming at the mouth. He was transported to a hospital and spent days in a coma caused by a supposed drug overdose. Odom, of Kardashian fame (just kidding, basketball fans), spent days on life support before miraculously recovering. However, the real story here is where he was found: in a Nevada brothel called the “Love Ranch.”

Lamar Odom slipped into a coma after a four-day long prostitution binge at the Love Ranch, one of the best-known brothels in Nevada. The Love Ranch is located approximately 75 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. Dennis Hof runs the Love Shack and six other brothels throughout Nevada, which is the only state that has legalized prostitution in the United States.

At the time of his overdose, Odom was staying in a 3,000 square foot suite at the Love Ranch and was soliciting the company of two of the business’s most popular employees, Ryder Cherry and Monica Monroe. The itemized bill from Odom’s stay at the Love Ranch totaled to more than $79,000, with $37,500 to each Cherry and Monroe, and over $1,000 on his bar tab and steaks. This exorbitant amount of money belies the question: how does the legal prostitution business actually work?

How The Business Works: Step-By-Step

Let’s go step-by-step.First, the women are hired through a careful selection process. Hof employs approximately 550 licensed prostitutes across his seven brothels in Nevada. While this seems like a lot of employees, Hof claims that he gets over one thousand applications a month from women who want to work at the prostitution houses.

Each applicant must submit recent photographs and go through a stringent background check. Hof refuses to hire any woman who has been convicted of any drug charges, and will not hire anyone who has been convicted of a felony within five years of the application. Further, each potential prostitute is required to undergo Sexual Transmitted Infection testing before being hired, and required to continue testing on a weekly basis while employed at the brothel.

Diverse Employment And Independent Contractors

The brothels’ staff consists of a diverse collection of women. The prostitutes range in age from 18 to 49 years old. Nearly half of the prostitutes who work at Hof’s brothels have college degrees. In fact, the businesses match the student loan payments for any woman who works there. Hof even hired the first licensed transgender prostitute in Nevada, Madison Montag, who works at the Love Ranch.

Second, at Hof’s businesses, the prostitutes are all independent contractors. The women set their own prices, they choose their own hours, and they can decide what they do with the client. Almost all women give military discounts. Each prostitute lives on the property either permanently or for the duration of her contract, which can range from weeks to months.

While the business keeps 50% of what each prostitute makes, Hof insists that each woman can bring in up to six figures a month. In general, the women work 5 days a week, 12-14 hours a day. There are usually approximately 150 prostitutes working at a time across the seven brothels, and each brothel usually services between 50-100 clients per day.

Third, the clients are “vetted” at the door. They can choose the women either beforehand, by reserving them on the website, or choose the women in person. For example, Lamar Odom was presented with a dozen of the Love Ranch’s most popular prostitutes, who lined up for him to make his choice.

In this case, the women that Odom chose, Cherry and Monroe, were unfortunately the people to find Odom in his unconscious state. Both of the women were subsequently suspended from their employment due to the allegations that they were aware that Odom was using cocaine during his stay at the Love Shack, where drug use is strictly prohibited.

Prostitution Vs Women’s Rights

In this era of women’s rights, it is difficult to determine whether these legal prostitution houses negate the advancements of feminism – or epitomize it. These brothels are businesses staffed by women who have intentionally applied to be licensed prostitutes. On one hand, it appears from the outset that these establishments are the epitome of feminism: women can choose their own lifestyle without shame or taboo. However, the suspension of the women due to Odom’s personal choice to ingest of drugs may indicate that there may still be a long way to go.

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